Scenic Playground: The Story Behind New Zealand's Mountain Tourism

A magnificent illustrated history of New Zealand's mountain tourism industry

By Peter Alsop, Dave Bamford and Lee Davidson

Publication date: November 2018
NZ RRP (incl. GST): $80.00
Extent: 416 pages
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-9941460-2-1

Buy Scenic Playground at Te Papa Store

This lavish book explores the story behind the promotion of New Zealand’s mountains — through posters, advertisements, hand-coloured photos and more. It explains how the country built its reputation as an alpine playground and, alongside, how mountains became central to belonging to Aotearoa.

Look inside Scenic Playground(link is external)


Winner of the 2019 Mountain and Adventure Heritage Award in the Mountain Book Competition.

Stuff said, This book is an absorbing treasure. " in their full page review.

Selected as one of the best books of 2018 by North & South: “This collection of a century of posters, glass slides, brochures, advertisements, paintings, photochromes and lithographs is the sort of beautifully produced ode to photography, hand lettering, graphic design and illustration we have come to expect from the team behind Selling the Dream and Hand-Coloured New Zealand.”

Scenic Playground will feature in the Hot Shopping pages of December issue of Kia Ora magazine. Further exposure in tourism media will be supported by confirmed coverage in NZ Herald, features and reviews in NZ GeographicThe ClimberWildernessBackcountry and others, as well as radio interviews.

The summer issue of The Climber magazine gave this review: “… there is a gloriously cohesive machine-age aesthetic that, honed closer to perfection in this meticulous and vibrant showcase of the modern printer’s art, reinvigorates the familiar iconography of the mountains.” 

The Otago Daily Times reviewed Scenic Playground and said“… Peter Alsop, Dave Bamford and Lee Davidson bring their varied professional skills to bear on the task of showing how we made the mountains irresistible … Scenic Playground is social history at full throttle.” Read more here...

Authors Peter Alsop and Lee Davidson gave a stellar interview on the RNZ's Summer Times programme on Wednesday 16 January. Listen here...

About the authors

Peter Alsop is a senior executive who has worked across the public and private sectors. He is a keen collector of New Zealand art, with particular interests in tourism publicity, hand-coloured photography and mid-century New Zealand landscape paintings. He is the author and co-author of five previous books.

Dave Bamford is now an independent tourism advisor who has worked extensively in New Zealand on regional tourism strategies, business plans and national park recreational opportunities.

Lee Davidson teaches in the Museum and Heritage Studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington.